by Greta Yeoman
Isabelle Bromham has taken up the reins of Environment Canterbury’s Public Transport team.
She replaces Tony Henderson, who has retired from the role of community transport adviser after 14 years working from the Timaru ECan office.
Mrs Bromham – who grew up in France – worked in a variety of social and environmental community projects in the United Kingdom before coming to New Zealand with her partner, Alistair, in January.
The projects she was involved with included travel-to-school plans for a number of local authorities in the UK, a bus service for surfers and a 5-year plastic-free strategy for North Devon.
Mrs Bromham was looking forward to getting fully involved in the role, after spending three months shadowing Mr Henderson on the job.
The pair had also travelled as far afield as Kurow and Kaikoura for the role.
Mr Henderson said while bus patronage had fallen during his time working for ECan, the number of communities creating community vehicle trusts had grown.
There were now 15 trusts across the wider Canterbury area, which provided transport for residents in rural communities.
The role covers three aspects of ECan’s work – community vehicle schemes, the Total Mobility programme and public transport systems – for the entire Canterbury region outside Greater Christchurch.
Mr Henderson said the community vehicle scheme had “grown constantly” since 2012.
Before then, only three communities had vehicle schemes.
There were now community vehicles in Waimate, the Waitaki Valley, Twizel-Tekapo, Fairlie, Geraldine and Pleasant Point and 15 across the wider Canterbury region.
“[It is a good option] when you’re living in a rural community and you need to go somewhere.”
Mr Henderson said most residents did not want to bother their neighbours for transportation, but plenty of research also showed it was beneficial for people to stay in their communities as they got older.
ECan data estimates more than 20,000 Canterbury residents had used the community vehicles in the past year.
They were driven by a team of about 300 volunteers, who had donated more than 10,000 volunteer hours to run the vehicles.
With an ageing population, schemes like community vehicle trusts and the provision of Total Mobility services were going to be increasingly in demand, Mr Henderson said.
“More people are wanting to stay in their own community [for] longer.”